I just beat the Elite Four so I thought I’d take a break in my adventure to review what I liked and what I was disappointed about in the game so far. Spoiler free until LARGE SPOILER TAG, after which there will be spoilers.
I think I may be one of the fewer that picked up Pokemon Moon instead of Sun. My bestie and I have bought opposite versions of the game since we were kids, and she opted for Sun because she liked the design of Solgaleo. It turns out that our decisions were spot on, as orange is her favorite color and purple is mine, and among the version differences include the colors of clothes you can buy–Pokemon Sun offers warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and Pokemon Moon offers cool colors (green, blue, purple). The other notable difference is that Pokemon Sun follows the real clock, whereas Pokemon Moon is the exact opposite of the real clock (so day is night and night is day).
Things I liked
New Pokemon Trials
Rather than the standard beat 8 gym leaders and then tackle the Elite Four and Champion, Pokemon Sun and Moon decided to deviate from the usual formula and have Trials to overcome. These Trials can have goals like collecting items, defeating specific Pokemon, etc. The Trials are finished with a battle with a Totem Pokemon, which is basically like a stat-boosted version of the Pokemon theme in the area. What’s more, these Pokemon can summon ally Pokemon to aid them in a 2-on-1 battle, where you are using a single Pokemon. This makes the battle more challenging!
Hau is your rival and cousin in this game. However, unlike other rivals, Hau is a happy-go-lucky boy full of youth and energy, and he also genuinely acts like one of your best friends. He never wishes anything bad to happen to you or anyone and always defends his friends, but in a I’m-pretty-normal-but-I’ll-do-my-best kind of way. It helps that he has one of the more skilled Pokemon teams out of any rival I’ve battled in the past, with the exception of Blue/Green ;).
Plethora of juicy fanart aside, Kukui is a young and fun Pokemon professor, breathing some new life into the series. He’s
unfortunately your cousin AND MARRIED, but he basically follows you to every island to both cheer you on and be absolutely ridiculous. Like Hau, he’s a ton of fun and a welcome character to have along for the adventure.
Finally, GameFreak heard our complaints and REMOVED HMs FROM THE GAME!
They also added the ability to ride specific Pokemon that aren’t in your party, which means you don’t have to carry an HM slave with you throughout the journey. Each of the Pokemon you can ride has one of the old abilities (e.g. rock smash, fly, surf) and can be summoned at basically anytime. Finally I can have a team of 6 that I can be as creative as I want with!
Rotom was such a welcome companion on the journey. If you remember, Rotom was that little electric ghost Pokemon you could find in the creepiest section of Pokemon Diamond…and it scared the crap out of me (the mysterious ghost girl in Pokemon X&Y is its only real contender for spoopy Pokemon moments). Well it looks like Professor Sycamore might have been responsible for developing the technology and allowing Rotom to enter it, thus giving the Pokedex life.
Rotom spouts out random jokes and comments throughout your journey on the bottom screen of your 3DS. If you’re not paying attention, you might just miss it. He also serves as a Pokemon Snap camera, allowing you to take pictures of Pokemon at certain locations in your journey. In general, I loved having him along!
Things I disliked
Color limitations per versions
As someone who spends an embarrassingly large amount of time on character fashion, I was disappointed to find out that my version limited me to half of the color wheel. You can eventually dye your white clothes to other colors, but that requires time and luck invested in the Festival Plaza. I still have yet to get the dye building and I’m at plaza level 7 now I think. Purple is my favorite color, but I like yellow and orange and red colors too :(.
Difficult to play with friends over the internet
The trading/battling system with friends over the internet is…not straightforward. I miss the system from X and Y where you could add your friends to see when they’re online on your lower screen, and you could see random greetings from other online trainers scroll across the bottom (I remember people saying Merry Christmas, among other things). Now you have to log into festival plaza and hope that your game detects your friend also being on and invites them into your plaza…and then you can trade/battle with them and make them VIP. It’s easier to find them after making them a VIP, but before that it seems to be unreliable at best. It took me a while to be able to find my bestie and conduct trades.
Things I really liked
Cosmog “Nebby” first appears in front of you as a helpless little Pokemon with a strong destructive force inside his tiny body. Lillie spends most of the game attempting to hide and protect Cosmog like a protective mother, and Cosmog spends most of the game trying to get into mischief as he/she struggles for freedom. At a pivotal moment in the game, Cosmog is sacrificed to open Ultra portals, and little Nebby goes into a cocoon-like, seemingly comatose form. At a later pivotal moment in the game when the Sun and Moon flutes are sounded, Cosmog reawakens and evolves into Solgaleo or Lunala, depending on your version. I loved the fact that we adventured alongside the legendary Pokemon without knowing it. All of the other Pokemon games always randomly summoned the legendary Pokemon, but I felt emotionally tied to Lunala–to our little Nebby.
Or, rather, Champion Kukui.
We’d been wondering for a long time why Pokemon Professors don’t become Pokemon Champions, but Kukui is finally here to show us that that’s not always the case. He drops hints about his previous adventures in Kanto throughout the game, even mentioning challenging the Elite Four and losing to a particular dragon Pokemon user. He’s also primarily responsible for building the Elite Four in Alola. It was thus suggested that he was a strong Pokemon trainer, so I felt like a battle would eventually happen. And it happened! Also his battle music was pretty epic. I mean, it’s usually pretty epic, but Kukui’s is more in like with B/W2’s more light-hearted end of a fun journey sound than the usual.
Things I disliked
This storyline had so much potential. The Aether foundation turns out to be corrupt from the inside, which isn’t entirely new considering what happened in Black and White. The goal to open portals to another place with mysterious Ultra Beasts was really interesting. Type: Null was a really interesting concept. Cosmog was also an excellent character. But ultimately the story fell flat. What was the motivation? A beautiful world? Destroying all of Alola? But why does Lusamine hate Alola so much? What drives her madness to the point of rejecting her own children? And when you chase her through the portal you spend only a short amount of time in the other world before coming back. It was anti-climactic. Releasing the Ultra Beasts on Alola and seeing the Guardians battle them was more exciting than the final battle.
The game’s version of Indigo Plateau, or the area that you go through before challenging the Elite Four, was short and easy. Usually these sections of the game are the most grueling of trials, demanding lots of item resources as they test your endurance and throw puzzles your way. Mount Lanakila, sadly, is a short romp with absolutely no puzzles. You do end up picking up the Ice Z-crystal just randomly in the cave, seemingly abandoned, but other than that there’s nothing notable about this part of the journey. I guess the game characters did put together the Elite Four last minute during the course of the game, so maybe they didn’t have time to put up a real challenge xD.
That’s all for now! I’ll be tackling post-game content next. I’ll be back with another review after I spend enough time tackling post-game challenges ;).